trip to Paris caused Cacy Lee to rethink her career as a therapist.
She now teaches art to people with disabilities. Cacy was born in
Minneapolis, grew up in Seattle, and now calls Portland home.
Thanapolis is an imaginary place where Cacy Lee's connection with
death is revisited over and over again.
"Thanapolis is also a state of mind where opposites co-exist
along with other possibilities," she said.
"Life and death can be felt at the same time, joy and sorrow
are experienced simultaneously, day and night exist in the same
place at the same time and the blood of a dying friend is like a
river of gold.
"Thanapolis exists because of the need to experience beauty
and order in the horrible and chaotic."
The ideas for Cacy's pieces come from dreams, relationships, fleeting
interactions, observations and her experience with death.
"Frying Pan Baby" is an image from a dream; "Frisco's
Tree" and "Daffodils for Mom" emerged out of the
loss of loved ones.
"Death is definitely my strongest influence," she said.
Cacy is also influenced by spiritual ideas, such as Kaballah and
Christianity, and by the philosophy of existentialism.
for Mom," conte crayon
"I'm most often preoccupied with internal stimuli and prefer
to wander around in my own little world, gathering up inspiration
and influence wherever I find it," she said.
The art of Dali and Frida Kahlo is "odd enough" to appeal
to Cacy. She also admires the movement in Van Gogh's work.
Thrilled to the bone
Cacy's first collage pieces were made with magazines, construction
paper and oil pastel. Her recent 2-D collage pieces use computer
images of her own art rather than magazine cutouts.
"I'm just beginning to explore the realm of 3-D," she
said. "For these pieces I use recycled wood products, glass,
leather, chicken bones and living plants. The idea of using something
living and something dead in the same piece of art thrills me."
pan baby #1," conte crayon
Cacy has shown her work in Portland at Another Moon Gallery, the
Convention Center, various cafés on Hawthorne and at Urban
Grind Coffee House.
Her October shows include Caffe Destino on Northeast 14th and Fremont,
and a First Thursday artist's reception at Independent Living Resources,
2410 SE 11th Ave., where she'll have a few pieces alongside some
of her students' work.
Cacy was the kid who was frequently asked to work on the class projects
that required some artistic skill.
"I enjoyed art as a child," she said. "I liked to
look at bugs under my microscope and draw all of their amazing little
parts. Sometimes I'd crawl into the back of my closet and make 'machines'
out of pieces of junk that I'd collected.
"And I will always be grateful to my older sister, Linda,
who first taught me that shapes had lines and that those lines had
to be consciously addressed."
tree," graphite/colored pencil
Cacy describes her senior year in high school as one big art class.
"I graduated with the honor of being voted 'Most Artistic
of the Senior Class,'" she said.
A few years later Cacy entered college with plans to major in art.
After two years at PCC she transferred to Marylhurst College thinking
she would finish her degree.
Due to a "major distraction," Cacy ended up with a bachelors
degree in social science and a masters degree in social work.
"The sudden death of a loved one moved me to reconsider my
priorities in life," she said. "I continue to be distracted
by the certainty of death; it's an existential pain Prozac can't
The turning point in Cacy's artistic life was a 1997 trip to Paris.
"I went to the P'ere Lachaise Cemetary, and with a bottle
of Adelscott and a cigar I made a commitment to steer my life towards
the arts," she said.
in green," oil pastel
Open to suggestion
Cacy's immediate goal is to improve the quality of her 2-D and 3-D
"I'm not sure how the relationships between the materials
will hold up, and I'm not satisfied with my use of color,"
she said. "I'm not a very patient person and I can see the
quality of that impatience in my work."
Cacy admits to being rather closed to criticism regarding the content
of her pieces, but she is open to criticism and comments regarding
"I would welcome new and useful ideas about how to get the
'little hairs' out of my wood pieces when I'm finished sanding them,
or which glue is best for permanent bonding, or ways to create a
more fluid line and so forth," she said.
"Producing quality work is an important goal for me."